Spring is in the air, could romance be too? A new survey has the answers

The coronavirus pandemic has made significant changes to the way in which we live, and none more so than in the area of dating and relationships. Together with dating app Inner Circle, we explore some of the behavioural differences that research has uncovered, and talk to people about how they plan to date in a post-pandemic world.

Spring is in the air, could romance be too? A new survey has the answers
Photo: Getty Images

2020’s State of Dating report, commissioned by Inner Circle, revealed that – perhaps unsurprisingly – our love lives have taken a hit. Government restrictions and public health measures led 55 percent of respondents to say that they dated less. A further 33 percent stated that they didn’t view dating as a priority during the lockdowns. Much of this sentiment can be tied to the fact that most respondents prefer to meet a partner face to face, with 47 percent of participants responding to that effect. 

Join Inner Circle today and learn more about their approach to dating. 

‘I got to know my sofa’

In interviews conducted by The Local, this sentiment was repeated. Miguel, a Canadian now in Paris found that dating came to a “screeching halt” and that he went from getting to know the city and its people, to “getting to know my sofa”. He continues saying that, “During the first lockdown we were only allowed to leave the house for exercise, or to get groceries – dating was not on the form we needed to have, trust me, I looked”.

Elena, an Australian comedian based in Berlin, found that dating fell by the wayside, as services sprung up to fill the needs of those locked down. As she told us, “All of our needs are met, we can order anything from Amazon, like food delivery or a vibrator”. Elena also reflected that lockdowns led to a significant restriction in dating options. “On first dates you normally would go to a restaurant, nightclub or live music gig. However, those options are not there, it’s either their place, or yours… or a walk in the park”.

Elena performing at a comedy club. Pic: Supplied

Light (and love) at the end of the tunnel

However, all is not lost. Research by Inner Circle showed that there is optimism, hope and a real desire for connection. In France, while 43 percent of respondents were optimistic about their love life, 70 percent have said that they consider their romantic meetings more important this coming year. Additionally, 67 percent seek to make more effort to meet this year and almost three-quarters of those surveyed are looking to commit to a relationship. If you’re single, now really is the time to get involved.

Meanwhile, in Italy – a traditional holdout against online dating apps – Inner Circle saw a 151 percent increase in users than at the same time last year, with a 47.8 percent increase in traffic over the first month of the year. It seems that spirits are improving and love once again is in the air, especially in romantic hotspots like Rome and Milan.

Join the Inner Circle, download the app and start meeting people today! 

(Pic:Inner Circle)

A helping hand 

For those looking for a partner, apps such as Inner Circle provide an enjoyable, direct way to meet people. Curated profiles, conversation prompts and friendly advice help users to make their best impression, and it’s easy to let others know how, where and when you wish to meet under Covid-19 guidelines.

Unlike many dating apps, Inner Circle also makes sure to screen profiles, to ensure that users have included good photos of themselves and rich information that helps others discover them. No more endless swiping – profiles on Inner Circle tell a story, one that you may want to be a part of.

Once restrictions are lifted, Inner Circle will recommence their popular events in France, Italy and Spain, allowing users to meet in a fun and flirtatious environment. They’re a consistent sell-out, so we’re sure they’ll be plenty of singles wanting to get their hands on tickets.

So how are those we spoke to hoping to date post-pandemic? Elena in Berlin tells us, “I think I will definitely know what I really want in a partner and won’t settle for people who aren’t all in. I think this time has given a lot of us a more focused approach to dating, rather than pre-Covid, when it was full of distractions.” Miguel in Paris has similar thoughts, “On a personal level, I think I’m going to be more direct and not waste any more time. If something isn’t working, I’m going to move on and keep looking”.

Ready to get out there and meet someone? Sign up for Inner Circle today, and see who the world has in store for you!


Three stories of finding love in Italy that will restore your faith in romance

Valentine's Day has its roots in the Roman Empire, so what better way to celebrate than with some heartwarming real-life stories about Italian love.

Three stories of finding love in Italy that will restore your faith in romance
Holly and Gianluca on their wedding day in Capri. Photo: Private

“And that is … how they are. So terribly physically all over one another. They pour themselves one over the other like so much melted butter over parsnips. They catch each other under the chin, with a tender caress of the hand, and they smile with sunny melting tenderness into each other's face.”

This is what British author D.H Lawrence once wrote about Italy. We know the country has its problems, but you can't escape the romance, whether that be in Romeo and Juliet's Verona, on a street sign, like the one in Cinque Terre below, or the open displays of affection. It's no wonder that many of those who travel or move to Italy do so with a secret hope of starting their own Italian love story.

The Street of Love. Photo: bigskyred/Flickr

But as a foreigner, sometimes the idea of actually finding love in the most romantic of countries can seem as distant from reality as the many myths surrounding Italy's dating culture.

There are language and cultural barriers to contend with, plus additional fears based on the stereotype of Italians as cheating Lotharios.

However, it can be done, and here are three pairs of star-crossed lovers whose 'how we met' stories will make you want to book a flight to Italy right away.

Holly and Gianluca, who run a restaurant together in Capri

In 2013, I was travelling around Italy for a five week holiday. It was my first visit to Capri and on my second night, I found myself dining at Ristorante Michel’angelo. From the moment I walked in to Michel’angelo, I immediately felt comfortable, which as a solo Australian traveller I really appreciated.

Little did I know this meal would change my life forever.

The waiter, Gianluca (who I later learnt was the owner) had such a warm manner but could only speak a little English and I could only speak a little Italian. At the end of my meal, in my best Italian I asked for the bill several times and instead received dessert and limoncello. I thought to myself that he mustn't have understood me. All the other tables were paying their bills and leaving until I was the only person left in the restaurant.

Gianluca then placed his order pad on the table, explained that he had not yet eaten and cheekily asked me for a table for one. Finding it pretty amusing (and with a little limoncello courage), I got up and showed him to a table, lit the candle and took his order. After I placed the order with the chef, I joined his table and with the help of Google translate we laughed until the early hours of the morning.

Two weddings later (one in Capri and one in Sydney) and with two beautiful baby boys, we now run Michel’angelo together and share an appreciation for fantastic food, wine, family and a good laugh!

Laura Thayer, an American writer and art historian who lives with her husband, Lello, on the Amalfi coast

The way I met my husband is right out of a romance movie.

My mother had planned a holiday here in 2007 while I was at graduate school in the US, and I just knew I had to go along! I was studying art history at the time, so it made sense to come to Italy.

We came to the Amalfi coast on a week-long tour, which is when I fell in love with the architecture of the area … and our tour guide!

We did the long distance thing for quite a while, with a lot of back and forth, until we finally married in 2012. 

Besides the stereotypical meeting, we're a pretty atypical couple with our cultural and age differences. I didn't even know a word of Italian when we met. But fortunately, since he is a tour guide the language barrier wasn't an issue. It has been quite an unexpected adventure, but one I wouldn't change for anything. It's true … you never really know how a vacation might change your life! 

Alice Kiandra Adam, an Australian cook and food stylist, who lives with her husband, Leonardo and two children in Rome

I was a caterer and food stylist in Melbourne when I left in May 2005 for a year-long trip to Italy.

I had studied Italian at primary school, and again as an adult, and was enamoured with the Italian gastronomic landscape. I had sold the catering business I had with a friend, and with enough money in my back pocket I thought I'd go to Rome to really learn the language.

My first job was as a waitress in a restaurant in the Trastevere district. It was a totally memorable experience. At the pub next door, where we would go for a drink after our shift, I met Leonardo.

It feels like a cliché writing this, but when we met I was swept off my feet on the back of a white Vespa. So when I got to the end of my 12 months of course I wanted to stay.

Almost 11 years later and we have two children, Alberto, 7, and Emma, 6. It was after they were born that I decided to go back to working in the food sector. I missed the creativity, the markets and produce and just being in the kitchen. It has been a really slow road building up a business in Rome, but I now work with some great Italian and international photographers, teach and lead tours with Casa Mia, and have a lot of really great projects happening at Latteria Studio, which I share in Trastevere.

I love Australia, and wish it was (quite) a bit closer, but there is so much about Italy, and Europe, that stimulates, challeges and inspires me.

A version of this article was first published in February 2016.